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What causes uterine fibroids?

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We don't know what causes uterine fibroids. Scientists have a number of theories, but none of these ideas explains fibroids completely.

Some factors researchers believed to be related to fibroid growth are:1,2

  • Estrogen
  • Progesterone
  • Growth hormones
  • Genetic changes
  • Misplaced cells present in the body before birth

Other factors that may affect fibroid growth are:

  • Quantity of micronutrients—nutrients such as iron that the body needs only small amounts of — in the blood.3 For instance, a deficiency of vitamin D may be associated with uterine fibroids.4
  • Major stresses5,6

It is likely that fibroids are caused by many factors interacting with one another. Once we know the cause or causes of fibroids, our efforts to find a cure or even prevent fibroids could move ahead more quickly.


  1. Lethaby, A., & Vollenhoven, B. (2007). Fibroids (uterine myomatosis, leiomyomas). Clinical Evidence 5. Retrieved April 11, 2012, from http://clinicalevidence.com/x/systematic-review/0814/overview.htmlExternal Web Site Policy [top]
  2. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2009). Uterine fibroids. Retrieved April 11, 2012, from http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq074.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120430T1057019423 External Web Site Policy. (PDF - 366 KB) [top]
  3. Martin, C.L., Huber, L.R., Thompson, M.E., & Racine, E.F. (2011). Serum micronutrient concentrations and risk of uterine fibroids. Journal of Women's Health, 20, 915-922. Retrieved December 8, 2011, from http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jwh.2009.1782 External Web Site Policy [top]
  4. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2012). Vitamin D shrinks fibroid tumors in rats. Retrieved April 2, 2012, from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/Pages/030112-vitaminD-fibroids.aspx [top]
  5. Baird, D., & Wise, L. (2011). Childhood abuse and fibroids. Epidemiology, 22, 15-17. Retrieved December 8, 2011, from http://journals.lww.com/epidem/Citation/2011/01000/Childhood_Abuse_and_Fibroids.3.aspx External Web Site Policy [top]
  6. Vines, A.I., Ta, M., & Esserman, D.A. (2010). The association between self-reported major life events and the presence of uterine fibroids. Women's Health Issues, 20, 294-298. Retrieved December 8, 2011, from http://www.whijournal.com/article/S1049-3867(10)00041-1/abstract External Web Site Policy [top]

Last Updated Date: 06/20/2014
Last Reviewed Date: 12/18/2013
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